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Rangers Have an Interest in Dodger Site

April 14, 1999|BILL SHAIKIN

The Texas Rangers have joined the Toronto Blue Jays in expressing interest in sharing a proposed spring training complex with the Dodgers at Fort McDowell, Ariz.

"We have, in a casual manner, talked to them [the Dodgers]," Ranger President Tom Schieffer said Tuesday. "We just said we might be interested in pairing up with somebody."

The Rangers' lease at their Port Charlotte, Fla., complex expires in 2001. The Rangers had the lowest attendance of any major league club this spring, and Schieffer said the team is concerned that expansion into Florida and Arizona has dimmed enthusiasm for exhibition games in those states.

The Rangers and Houston Astros are exploring the possibility of holding spring training in south Texas, with a feasibility study due this summer.

"It's a very long, long shot," Schieffer said. "You couldn't do it with two teams. You really need to have six in order to have enough teams to play each other. It's a long way from concept to realization, but it's something worth exploring."

The Dodgers have not yet decided whether to move from Vero Beach, Fla., to Fort McDowell, where the Yavapai tribe has offered to build a $50-million training complex that could be completed by 2001. The facility would include six full practice diamonds for the Dodgers, six for another team and a stadium shared by the two teams.

The Dodgers are awaiting a proposal from Vero Beach, which hopes to combine $20 million in city, county and state money to buy Dodgertown from the team and make improvements to the complex. If they stay, the Dodgers want an upgraded clubhouse and weight room and improved concession facilities, said Fred Coons, director of business development.

The Dodgers have not yet completed their Vero Beach wish list or attached a price tag to it, Coons said, so it is possible the desired renovations could exceed $20 million. A decision is unlikely before June.

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